I turn 30 on February 18th. I want to celebrate this, and get myself back into writing, by spending a few weeks rambling about the 30 things that have meant the most to me over the years. These will be from music, movies, books, videogames, and maybe even art and other things for good measure. I feel like my life has been much more about the things I've experienced than it has the people I've known or the places I've traveled to, and these 30 things have helped to make my 30 years more than worth all the innumerable bad things. Expect heartfelt over-sharing and overly analytical explanations galore! In part 5, I mean, "in the not too distant future..."
With TV shows that lean more toward the comedic/entertainment focused side of things, they can go on perpetually as long as they give the audience what it wants at the same level of quality. More than The Simpsons did during its prime, I think South Park has become the standard bearer of this ideal. Certainly there are always some forgettable or thrown-together episodes each year, but after 17 seasons I still don't see many people complaining that it should've stopped years ago, like I do with Family Guy or The Simpsons. Don't even get me started on debating the merits of bringing back shows like Family Guy and Futurama from cancellation, or we'll be here all day. But seriously, Simpsons should've ended like a decade ago.
Post-Season 10 Simpsons: it stinks.
I'm not great at math so I should end this digression and move on.
Speaking of fights: where do you fall on Joel vs. Mike as host? When I discovered the show it was late in its life, so as far as I knew Mike was the only host. I always tended to lean toward him because I'm more familiar with his era but over the past two or three years, thanks to torrents, Netflix, and Hulu, I'm now right in the middle, leaning toward neither Joel nor Mike. To me it's just great that we got to have two hosts who were equally good and brought their own feel to the series. If the show had become as successful as The Simpsons and persisted for ten more seasons, it would probably have had another host at some point that everyone ended up hating. The only upside would be that Mike and Joel fans would have stopped arguing with each other and joined forces to hate this theoretical third host together.
Dividing fans quicker than Kirk Vs. Picard since 1993
With Joel Vs. Mike, keep in mind that you don't have to choose. As I said, I don't, and it depends on my mood and many other factors anyway. It's like asking me to choose between pizza and burgers; I need more context to make a choice: what time of day is it, am I sober, am I in a good or bad mood, am I at home or somewhere else? I suppose if I'm in a good mood, I go for Joel episodes. His era tends to be free-wheeling and goofy; he and the bots might really hate a movie but they're usually not mean spirited about it and try to amuse themselves along the way. Mike's era is more cynical and sarcastic; it's what I go for when I need to see a crappy movie get flayed alive because I'm in a bad mood and I need help to bring me out of it. Still, it's true that both of these styles existed to some extent in both eras—after all, Mike was the head writer for a time before he took over hosting duties when Joel left.
I'm probably the only person who likes the Godzilla episodes more
The strangest thing about my longtime love for MST3k is that when I was younger I only understood about half of the jokes. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that for a period of years I thought of the show as being akin to New Yorker cartoons, in that back then I assumed any humor I didn't understand was too high brow for my adolescent brain. If I didn't get a joke from MST3k or a cartoon from New Yorker, I assumed they were too smart for me, when really it was a product of being too young and immature to understand them. There is also the obscurity factor. If you don't have a thorough knowledge of pop culture from the 1960s onward, you could be the smartest person in the world—someone who understands every New Yorker cartoon, even—and many MST3k jokes will go right over your head. I still don't know some of the reference points they're pulling from, but thanks to the fansite The Annotated MST3k, you can now look up anything from (practically) any episode of the series.
Despite this 50/50 ignorance of MST3k's references, the show served as a respite for my younger self. After being forced to go to church with my family week after week, I used to come home and watch the rest of whatever episode was on SciFi Channel that morning. It unknowingly became a ritual that I felt counter-acted the religion I was increasingly moving away from. MST3k isn't anti-religious but I think you know what I mean. In other times of my life I had an author or a band or a favorite cocktail or a girlfriend to be there for me, to help me endure the things I didn't want to have to endure, but had to for whatever reason. In that period of my life (1997ish through 2000ish), MST3k was there for me. Even though going to church meant missing the first half of each episode, the limited viewings were like a window into another world I wished I inhabited, where there were people who talked and thought like I did, only way more funny and articulate.
It occurred to me at some point last year that MST3k is my favorite TV show of all time. I wasn't even actively thinking about what my favorite show was, it simply popped into my head as a fact the way one's wandering mind might arrive at “you know, strawberry Starburst is my favorite flavor” while waiting in line at the DMV. My reasoning may be suspect because it's not like I'm a superfan who watches it every day; I'm by no stretch an expert on the show. I wish I could at least give my own list of top episodes but I can't because I couldn't possibly decide. Not because I have too many favorites, but because—past the rough first season or two of the show—I think of every episode as my favorite, as essential. I laugh more at some episodes, I think some of them have movies that are better or worse as fodder for jokes, but I have never seen anything close to a mediocre or outright bad episode. Even other TV shows that would make a list of my favorites have a handful of episodes that I find to be subpar or not worth watching again. When it comes to MST3k, though, I am down to watch any episode, any time, even if I have already seen it multiple times. So I figure, it's by default my favorite show.
Now...which one do you want to watch?
This one is great, but you knew that